Torres Strait Regional Authority

The Torres Strait Regional Authority (TSRA) is an Australian Government body established to administer the Torres Strait Islands.The TSRA consists of 20 elected representatives.[1]

Torres Strait Regional Authority
Coat of arms
The Torres Strait Islands
CapitalThursday Island
Demonym(s)Torres Strait Islander
GovernmentRegional Authority
Elizabeth II
Joseph Elu
 Chief Executive Officer
Wayne See Kee
Regional Authority
1 July 1994

The primary function of the Authority is to strengthen the economic, social and cultural development of the peoples of the Torres Strait area. The authority was established in 1994.[2] The TSRA was set up to replace the activities that were previously conducted by the abolished Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission. Nearly two thirds of the authority's funds are spent on employment programs.[2] Most of the remaining funding is spent on housing programs.

The TSRA is part of the Territory Coalition, which is trying to gain official Territory status for the Torres Strait Islands. The plan would see the TSRA and local governments in the area abolished.[3]

The islands

The Torres Strait Islands lie to the north of Tropical Queensland's Cape York Peninsula and comprise 274 small islands, of which 17 are inhabited, located in Torres Strait which separates Australia and Papua New Guinea (PNG). Each island community elects a member to the Torres Strait Regional Authority.[4]

Thursday Island (Waiben) and Horn Island (Nurupai) are the most well-known of the Torres Strait Islands. Activities on the islands are quite traditional, with fishing being the major economic activity. To travel to the remote islands (other than Thursday and Horn Islands) permission is required from the Torres Strait Regional Authority.[5]

The five major island groups of the Torres Strait include:

  • Northern Division (Boigu, Dauan, Saibai)
  • Eastern Islands (Darnley, Murray, Stephen)
  • Western Division (St. Pauls, Kubin, Badu, Mabuiag)
  • Central Division (Yorke, Coconut, Warraber, Yam)
  • Southern Division (TI and Inner Islands, NPA and Mainland Australia)


The TSRA board is led by a Chair of the Torres Strait Regional Authority and Deputy Chair. The current chair is Joseph Elu.[6] The day-to-day functions of the TSRA are carried out by an Administration Department led by a Chief Executive Officer, currently Wayne See Kee.[7]

Chair of the Torres Strait Island Regional Authority:

  • 1 July 1994 – March 1997: Getano Lui, Jr. (b. 1952)
  • March 1997 – 19 April 2000: John Abednego
  • 19 April 2000 – May 2004: Terry Waia
  • May 2004 – November 2012: John Toshie Kris
  • November 2012 – Present: Joseph Elu


Together with the Island Co-ordinating Council (ICC) the TSRA has been active in implementing community based management strategies. The adoption of a Marine Strategy for the monitoring and management of dugong and turtle populations in the seas around the islands was undertaken in 1999.[8] In 2006, successful lobby by the authority and the ICC resulted in the granting of $300,000 from the Federal Government to study the risks of climate change on the six largest Torres Strait Islands.[9] In 2010, after a nine-year legal battle, the TSRA made a successful native title claim to 40,000 km² of sea between Cape York Peninsula and Papua New Guinea.[10] This was the largest native title claim in Australia's history.[11]

See also


  1. "Qld councils urged to cooperate". The Age. 26 July 2007. Retrieved 2 June 2008.
  2. Office of Evaluation and Audit (June 2001). Evaluation of the Torres Strait Regional Authority (PDF). pp. 1–2. Retrieved 22 October 2012.
  3. "TSRA, Councils to go under Territory plan". Torres News. 28 August 2010. Retrieved 10 September 2010.
  4. Kaye, Stuart B. (1997). The Torres Strait. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Kluwer Law International. p. 13. ISBN 90-411-0506-9.
  5. Queensland Destinations – The Torres Strait Islands. Tourism Queensland.
  6. "TSRA Board Elects Eight Portfolio Members". TSRA. 19 November 2012. Retrieved 18 December 2012.
  7. General Manager Profile Archived 9 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine. Torres Strait Regional Authority. Retrieved on 3 July 2011.
  8. Nettheim, Garth; Gary D. Meyers; Donna Craig (2002). Indigenous Peoples and Governance Structures. Canberra: Aboriginal Studies Press. p. 386. ISBN 0-85575-379-X.
  9. "Going Under". The Sydney Morning Herald. 12 August 2006. Retrieved 29 June 2011.
  10. Nicole Butler (3 July 2010). "Islanders celebrate historic native title decision". ABC Online Indigenous. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 10 September 2010.
  11. "Historic native title decision looms". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 2 July 2010. Retrieved 28 June 2011.
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